I am the I in IWK – Janet Curran, Clinician Scientist

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Janet Curran is a clinical scientist with the Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine Department. Her lab, Strengthening Transitions in Care, is currently leading a large, nationally funded study of the communication between health care professionals and patients/families within the Emergency Department.

While this may sound straightforward, Curran’s path to this research was anything but. Curran’s career started as a frontline nurse in Newfoundland, where she also did her masters at Memorial University. She moved to Halifax to continue her education with a Ph.D. at Dalhousie, but as life happens, she ended up accepting a job at the IWK instead, as a professional development consultant.

“My work here eventually evolved into developing tools to help healthcare providers,” says Curran. “Part of what a professional consultant does is to help build orientation programs for new staff, so when new nurses would join the Emergency Department we had to have a training program in place for them.”

Curran worked as a professional development consultant for 12 years. During that time, she developed one of the IWK’s first online learning tools that put the nursing orientation into a web-based platform. The technology was eventually used at hospitals around Nova Scotia to give access to the IWK resources.

“I guess my mind has always been research-focused and trying to find solutions to problems to improve care,” says Curran. “I feel very lucky to be in the position where I get to investigate real problems and having my lab in the health centre, talking health care professionals, patients and families, helps me to identify them.”

“When we talk about ‘I am the I in IWK’, I think I’m actually the ‘W’, I’m the ‘We’ because I couldn’t do this by myself. Developing solutions to improve care is a team effort. A team made up of the people who will use these solutions; patients, families and health care professionals.”

Curran finished her Ph.D. and has been working back with the IWK since 2012. “I knew I was going to come back here. I feel very passionate about working at the IWK and I was so pleased to get the funding for my research lab.”

“I think my most favorite part of working at the IWK is walking into the building in the morning and seeing patients and families that I pass. I smile every time I come in here. These kids and these families are really why we’re all here.”